Pros and Cons of a MUH Disclosure Law


What is it?

A disclosure law in multiunit housing requires the property owner or manager to disclose whether smoking is allowed, where it is allowed, etc.  A number of states and municipalities have passed them, but no studies have come out yet to indicate their effectiveness in increasing the significant number of smoke-free policies.

Some Concerns


Disclosure laws do nothing to stop drifting smoke in MUHs.


It may not lead to significant policy change.  In Colorado there was once a disclosure law requiring restaurants to tell their customers if smoking was allowed in the restaurant (CCIA before 2006).  That didn't compel restaurants or bars to make the entire restaurant smoke-free or have no-smoking sections.  They would just put up the signs and kept allowing smoking and the law also slowed our efforts to obtain stronger laws.


It could slow down efforts to implement stronger legislated policies at the local level because legislators and the public feel the problem has been taken care of.


If they do not lead to policy change are they worth putting all the effort into passing them?


Some landlords may oppose additional legal requirements due to the additional burden.


Landlords may be concerned about liability issues that may result from not changing their no-smoking policies even though they are not required.


It may be a bad PR opportunity (and a bad strategic move) if your state or community norms have not changed sufficiently to the point where the community agrees and supports a disclosure law.


Some Benefits


It makes landlords aware that no-smoking policies are legal.


In the process of notifying residents of the no-smoking policy housing providers may realize there is a market niche for smoke-free housing and that most residents prefer it.


It's good for potential residents/owners and can empower them to make informed decisions about where they want to live. 


It is probably easier to pass than other legislated policies for smoke-free housing and may help lead to stronger policies.


Landlords may be more supportive of such policies than other more restrictive laws requiring them to make their buildings smoke-free.


It may be a good PR opportunity.


It may lead to policy change.




The concerns seem to outweigh the benefits due to the potential repercussions.  Why put so much time, energy, and resources into working on something that may not lead to significant policy change and hinder your efforts down the road to get a strong ordinance that requires MUH to have no-smoking policies?